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SPARKLE IN GREY

Progressive Electronic • Italy


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Sparkle In Grey biography
Sparkle in Grey is an eclectic post-rockin' ambient based project Formed in Milan during the late 1990s by Matteo Uggeri (Hue), joined in 2006 by poli-instrumentalist Cristiano Lupo (member of Norm), Alberto Carozzi (former member of Yakudoshi) and violin player Franz Krostopovic (of Pulp-ito).

Sparkle in Grey delivers an intense and blissed out musical dialogue between melodious post-rockin dynamics, dreamlike electro experiments, noisy drones and almost soundtracky ambiences. This musical universe is sustained by an original and personal corpus of evocative images and feelings linked to absurdism, poetical surrealism and everyday life short tales.

See also : Hue, Meerkat, Maurizio Bianchi, Giuseppe Ielasi, Eric Malmberg (...)

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SPARKLE IN GREY discography


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SPARKLE IN GREY top albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

0.00 | 0 ratings
A Quiet Place
2008
3.99 | 7 ratings
Mexico
2011
3.95 | 4 ratings
Thursday Evening
2013
3.95 | 4 ratings
The Calendar
2014

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SPARKLE IN GREY Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 The Calendar by SPARKLE IN GREY album cover Studio Album, 2014
3.95 | 4 ratings

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The Calendar
Sparkle In Grey Progressive Electronic

Review by Epignosis
Special Collaborator Eclectic Prog Team

3 stars Sparkle in the Grey is a new act for me. What caught my attention, aside from the whimsical artwork, was the "concept" of The Calendar, with each piece representing a given month (and a mysterious thirteenth tacked on at the end). Many times because of the instrumentation, I am reminded of the sadder passages in Ritual's The Hemulic Voluntary Band, but what that album had in spurts of dynamism, this album forgoes entirely. Rather than engaging the listener, it seems content to serve as cinematic music, often bleak with tiny bits of shine. Indeed, "Sparkle in the Grey" would have been an apt name for many of these pieces. Avoid this album if the desire is progressive electronic music in the traditional sense, but it will invite many listens if you have a fondness for simple, rural folk music.

"Ianuarius" Perhaps depicting a farm in the middle of winter, a slow-moving sense of idleness pervades the piece, with icy glockenspiel and only the steady plodding of guitar to keep the listener warm.

"Februarius" Ambient noises of a lonely villager moving about patter alongside plucked guitar and bittersweet strings.

"Martius" As though welcoming the forthcoming thaw, gentle ukulele introduces a more full-bodied acoustic guitar piece. The violin creates the feeling of a warm spring night, and, just like the insects that pester during one of those, strident electronic noises bite.

"Aprilis" Much brighter and warmer, a sleepy acoustic guitar accompanies that rich violin and now a melodica. Those piercing tones return, marring an otherwise beautiful performance.

"Maius" A static electroinic percussive tone rattles like Morse code, like someone tapping underneath the floorboards. The strings evoke a gorgeous springtime wedding.

"Iunius" The first summer month is honored with a plaintive but highly melodic piece, with multiple lead instruments bellowing out in rich counterpoint. As though to raise the mood, a giddy ukulele breaks up the plaintiveness.

"Quintilis" Although not abandoning the overall mood this album has created thus far, "Quintilis" includes a few strange melodic turns, dark piano, and grunting bass.

"Sextilis" The background bantering sounds like it came right out of a diner, while the music itself has a 1950s jazz approach, low and sleepy until the electronic percussion and ukulele change up the feel.

"September" As the air gets colder, so does the music, this time summoning a ghostly voice that hovers over dimly lit passages.

"October" Abounding strings give way to further soothing acoustic guitar. Inappropriate lead work that matches neither the flavor of the piece or the key jars the listener out of the reverie and back to reality. "November (Just Like Anything)" As the only piece to get a parenthetical note, I initially wondered if this one would stand out. The answer is clear soon enough: This is a song, a delightfully dated-sounding folk song with understated vocals.

"December" Going back to the colder, lonelier canvas, those delicate sounds over such a gray, empty sound evoke the feeling of staring outside on a cold December dusk when it looks like it might snow, but only dribbles of sleet drop out of the stony heavens.

"The Thirteenth Month" Echoing bass rumbles beneath a host of strings.

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 The Calendar by SPARKLE IN GREY album cover Studio Album, 2014
3.95 | 4 ratings

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The Calendar
Sparkle In Grey Progressive Electronic

Review by philippe
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

5 stars The multi-directional and tremendously adventurous electronic post-rockin chamber ensemble Sparkle in Grey is back after the powerful, eclectic and electric krautrockin 'Thursday Evening'. 'The Calendar' is so made of magnificent soundscaping poetries that words can hardly explain my feelings after a first immersion in the music. This is continuously intimate and irresistibly enchanting, you just need to let yourself to be absorbed by those small, unpretentious, slightly humorous and sincere microsonic musical paintings. As in the previous releases the deeply evocative and melancholic dreamy-like atmosphere is still here but the electronic arrangements are reduced to the minimum to let the place to a vast collection of acoustic instrumentation where the guitar and the violin play a major role, punctuated by silences, sometimes sustained by detached and sorrowing trumpet lines. Field recordings and processed textures are also brought to the fore and communicate all together in a very dynamic and spontaneous folkish register. Dissonant compositional schemas, enigmatic instrumental phrases meet absolutely heavenly melodic themes in a minimalist-microtonal mode. Each track develops its own characteristics, sometimes plaintive, ethereal, nave but clearly orientated to a sense of progressiveness with a nicely suggestive cinematic touch whose Matteo and his team have definitely the secret. This album admits no comparison. According to me this is an undisputed little masterpiece that proves once again that the collective stands as unique and freely inspiring in the universe of independent-alternative music. Among the top favorites of the year.

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 Thursday Evening by SPARKLE IN GREY album cover Studio Album, 2013
3.95 | 4 ratings

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Thursday Evening
Sparkle In Grey Progressive Electronic

Review by admireArt

4 stars Progressive Post-Math/Rock, Eclectic , RiO/AV, Rock Progressivo Italiano and Krautrock with touches of Prog/Electronics (CROSSOVER all in all!). With a subtle political/ecological posture !

Yes! All that happens here, not during the whole album, but in each song! Every second counts, every possible development of a musical structure is explored, without shame and opposite to that with a poignant "punk-like" and "focused experimentation" attitude in their performance and songwriting respectively. These all adds up to the frantic intensity, which wraps you up to high peaks, just to let you "sweet-downfall" from there, to be caught again and again until you are already hooked on and delighted.

Italian progressive band SPARKLE in GREY's, 2013, "Thurdsday Evening" , again, has one of the most deceiving, misleading and un-market wise art/covers one could choose to use with this kind of music. Instead of pointing out more or less as to what really is going on inside this marvel, it LOOKS like an 80's art/cover for a "disco" collection. Deceiving, but unimportant, once you are caught inside.

Again as in their previous effort, the strings (violin) have a prominent place in settling up the more touching and heartfelt moments and also again the "electronics" are just an average part of this effort (not counting that it was "electronically recorded" as any other record, but those were nott mashed up in this category, as the untaggable Sparkle in Grey music is).

Bold, energetic, dynamic, creative, diverse, original and above all masterfully unpretentious!

Sparkle in Grey, sparkles also in high musical artistry.

****4.5 "evolving their sound to new heights" PA stars!

PD: Remember not exactly prog/electronic. In fact everything else and then that!

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 Mexico by SPARKLE IN GREY album cover Studio Album, 2011
3.99 | 7 ratings

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Mexico
Sparkle In Grey Progressive Electronic

Review by admireArt

4 stars Excellent Progressive Post-Math/Rock, Crossover and Eclectic music, with touches of Prog/Electronics !!

Sparkle in Grey's "Mexico" travels many routes musically speaking. Maybe the relaxed mood in both their cover art as its inlays (which they send you promptly, even if only downloaded, via Bandcamp) is that exactly, but as the music progresses there is an experimental sense of moving forward through different environments. The "electronics" involved consist mostly of pre-recorded material and "noises" which act as bridges from song to song, and also as track 4 "Sunrising", become a whole experimental electronic song.

I of course, knew of this band through the PA's prog/electronic listings, which I thank for, but nevertheless, to include Sparkle in Grey in this electronic "planet" is completely out of tune, both musically speaking & market-wise, 6 ratings since 2011, is ridiculous!

Anyway. Sparkle in Grey's "Mexico" is basically "instrumental", it is bold without scandals, intelligent and creative without pompousness or technical pirouettes. The range and scopes of the up-front but minimalistic display in their intrumentation ranges from the above mentioned electronic backgrounds, but mostly, whole constructed songs based on acoustic piano, acoustic and electric guitars, violins, strings, down to earth and subtle drummings and songs that have the whole feel of the night life Rock/Jazz circuits, in the post-"whathever" 21th century's world. Also songs that seem to come straight out from the "wilderness". The routes are varied, attractive and rich in contrasts, without exceeding these contrasts just for kicks!

As the rating goes, good enough, as to have bought their next effort. Good enough to hold on to, "essential" they say.

****4 (multi-genre) PA stars!

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 Thursday Evening by SPARKLE IN GREY album cover Studio Album, 2013
3.95 | 4 ratings

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Thursday Evening
Sparkle In Grey Progressive Electronic

Review by BrufordFreak

4 stars Listening to this on progstreaming.com I can see why there was some contention as to whether or not this should have been placed in the Post Rock or Electronica subgenres. There seems to be a lot of folk and neo-classical elements as well, but the electronica foundations are indisputable. I'm finding the music quite enjoyable. And, well, the political commentary is also quite welcome and a powerful addition. Artists who go out and take the risk of taking moral and political stands are good with me. I really liked last year's Mexico a lot--it's upbeat quirkiness was like a welcome shower in the world of so much heavy music. This one is much more even tempered (to my ears)--kind of like a collection of catchy World Music grooves--Eno, Talking Heads, Karda Estra, Rational Diet, Massive Attack, Arto Lindsay, Les Negresses Vertes strung out on heroine and a whole host of Celtic and French folk groups come to mind from time to time.

Favorite songs: the spaghetti Western-cum-Ibiza cool jazz 1. "Der Mauer" (6:14) (9/10); the slow tempoed neoclassical 4. "A Swift of Flight" (6:00) (9/10); the oh-so-cool, suave but simple blues rock of 6. "Soft City" (2:51) (9/10); the TOE-plays-Talking Heads 9. "Der Harbour" (9:09) (9/10).

A wonderful album of groovin', melodic, background or play-along songs. Quite unlike other prog rockers currently on the scene. Check it out!

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 Mexico by SPARKLE IN GREY album cover Studio Album, 2011
3.99 | 7 ratings

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Mexico
Sparkle In Grey Progressive Electronic

Review by zravkapt
Special Collaborator Post/Math Rock Team

4 stars Sparkle In Grey are a group from Italy, a country which has produced a lot of great prog in recent years. This is their second album and the first I've heard. They were brought to my attention as a member of the Post Rock Team for which I voted for their inclusion. To my surprise, when I went to review this album Sparkle In Grey are now located in Prog Electronic. Oh well, PA can be a strange place sometimes. There are electronic elements here, as there are in a lot of post rock, but they never dominate. Instead there is a lot of violin on this album. The music here is the type of post rock I like the most: where a band has their own sound and diverse influences. Post Rock is not as one-dimensional as some make it out to be and I thought Mexico was one of the better post rock albums in recent years.

"Boys Vomit" is a song that was originally done by a group called Norm in 2000. I don't know anything about that group other than one of the members of Sparkle In Grey was also a member. The way the song is done here sounds like great post rock. "That One" has a nice buildup at the beginning, with instruments piling on top of each other. Spoken samples in this track. Really weird vibe to this song but it works. Sounds almost like two different songs playing at the same time: one an electronic track with a real drumkit added, and another a twangy rocker. I like the guitar strumming towards the end with the spoken samples. "From The Air" is a cover of the Laurie Anderson song. It keeps the vocoderized melody and overall beat of the original but otherwise if fairly different. The accent of the woman here does not sound Italian but rather Scandinavian. The beat eventually goes away and the drumming gets a little looser.

"Sunrising" has a muffled speech to an audience in Italian being overlaid with what sounds like some kind of horn. Electronic thuds and atmospherics abound until it turns into some kind of folky rock with violin. The speech comes back. "Dimissioni" begins with the electronic drone that ended the previous track. An electronic beat and then a nice folky melody on violin. Some lovely classical sounding piano later on. Gradually the electronic beats are replaced by a kick drum and the piano becomes more melancholic sounding. You hear the sound of a typewriter (remember those?) at the end and at the beginning of the title track. Said title track has a great dub reggae influence, yet another ingredient in early post rock that got discarded by later bands along the way. Nice wah-wah guitar and minimal piano.

Eventually the song gets looser and slightly jazzier before it changes to a sort of riff on guitar with more busy drumming. Later on some acoustic guitar, piano and trumpet make some lovely sounds. Such a great post rock song from 2011. Love it. "Phennel Song" opens with coins being spun then some great mournful violin leads a march. Almost sounds like a chamber-rock waltz. You hear glass break along the way. You can hear what sounds like either bagpipes or an accordion in the background. Overall a great album with great sound and compositions. I like this album since I first heard it last year but I never got around to reviewing it until now. If you like the more diverse and experimental end of post rock you should enjoy this. 4 stars.

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 Mexico by SPARKLE IN GREY album cover Studio Album, 2011
3.99 | 7 ratings

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Mexico
Sparkle In Grey Progressive Electronic

Review by Conor Fynes
Prog Reviewer

4 stars 'Mexico' - Sparkle In Grey (8/10)

Although initial impressions lean towards a GODSPEED YOU! BLACK EMPEROR type of post-rock, Italian band SPARKLE IN GREY takes in a wide range of sound in their music. Post-rock may indeed be the best way to describe this Milan-based ensemble, but there is a greater focus on texture and ambiance than one would expect from a typical band of the style. The result of this collision of noise ambient, and psychedelic noodling is a mark of excellence I have not often given to my new discoveries of recent months.

Like the old Spaghetti Western films, these Italians recreate the romantic frontier-feel one might associate with Mexico. The album 'Mexico' does not feel like a concept work perse, but there is a running string of motifs that conjure imagery not unlike that of the album's artwork. SPARKLE IN GREY get these mental images across through a blend of post-rock, mixed with horns and violins. 'Boys Vomit' opens up the album on this mark, never quite latching onto a melody, yet captivating one's attention with its vast sense of texture. The mood is dreamlike and cinematic; something that remains constant throughout the rest of the album. By the end of 'Boys Vomit', SPARKLE IN GREY introduce another element of their style that will gain momentum in songs to come; electronic and noise music. Although it is never jarring, there is a benign use of gruff buzzing in order to give the soundscape an even wider scope. In the face of what is otherwise a very harmonious sound, this only works part of the time, but never significantly takes away from the sonic beauty SPARKLE IN GREY bring forth on this record.

From the murky ambiance of 'Sunrising' and PORCUPINE TREE-esque build-up of 'Dimissioni', SPARKLE IN GREY reinvent themselves slightly with every track, and though none of the songs ever truly leap at the listener as the 'best', the sense of monotony I often get from listening to ambient albums is in absentia. One song that may be my least favourite however is 'From The Air'; a piece that distinguishes itself from having vocals. Spoken word vocals are used here; Deborah Arnold calmly speaks in airliner-cliche, eventually getting a little absurd with it ("this is your captain speaking... put your hands on your head, put your hands on your hips..."). By the end of this short track, there is a vocal melody that sounds oddly enough like something Lady Gaga might sing. It's not a terrible track, but it does take away from what is otherwise a stunning piece of otherworldly ambiance.

I am not always big into this type of music, thinking it often to be rather listless and even lazy from a compositional regard. SPARKLE IN GREY may pass some listeners as just that, but the adventurous steps they take with fleshing out their sound is intense and exciting. An excellent album!

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 Mexico by SPARKLE IN GREY album cover Studio Album, 2011
3.99 | 7 ratings

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Mexico
Sparkle In Grey Progressive Electronic

Review by philippe
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

4 stars Sparkle in Grey is a free-flowing post-rockin' collective formed in Milan. It consists of Matteo Uggeri (on electronics), Franz Krostopovic (Violin), Alberto Carozzi (guitars), Cristiano Lupo (many instruments) and a handful of guests. Each musician is also involved in many side projects and collaborations. Matteo Uggeri is also the founder of the independent label Grey Sparkle. This musical family tribe published a first album in 2008 entitled "A Quiet Place". It can be seen as an intimate combination between aleatoric sound experiments, dreamy acoustic tones and impressionist-like rockin sequences. Mexico (2011) does not appear to be fundamentally different from this first but includes more dense proggy variations into the mix. Maybe a less difficult listening for neophyts in underground subgenres as well. Musically speaking Mexico provides a bath of Cheerful dreaminess, deliciously evocative and constantly moving. The instrumental section is perfectly achieved and serve a gorgeous musical trip, providing an exquisite sense of drama punctuated by lyrical / humorous accents. This release delivers a very personal musical signature. However to situate briefly Sparkle in Grey's sound aesthetism I would like to say that they are somewhere between the introspect and highly textured ambient pieces of Hans Joachim Rodelius, the wondrous static minimalism of Tony Conrad, the smoothly languorous improvs of King Crimson and the sinister soundtracky ambiences of the Brothers Quay's animation films.

With an equal pleasure we pass from the delicate and cinematic Boys vomit , to the hyper catchy hypno-ish pop "That One", to the delirious avatn-gardist "From the air", to the funereal grooves of "Sunrising" to the gently metaphysical ambiences of Mexico to finally be absorbed by the sweet melancholia of Phennel Song. Each track is a sensitive / blissed-out micro musical scene in itself.

A breathtaking effort, a marvelous and engaged musical voyage out of time

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Thanks to Philippe Blache for the artist addition.

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